Friday, September 26, 2008

Downtown Helsinki

The train station is one of the most recognizable pieces of architecture in Helsinki:

Above is the end line of the commuter trains at the train station. We rode these a lot. The temple and patron housing are technically in Espoo, which is a short, 12-minute train ride away.

Esplanadi is one of the prettiest streets to stroll through.

One of several statues in Esplanadi featuring national heroes. Many of them represent literary figures. We walked past this one several times. Honestly, no clue who he is. But isn't the landscaping gorgeous?

Mom and me. This is the end of Esplanadi as you enter the dock with the kauppatori (the open-air market) and many official buildings. The area has a classic look to it (maybe because it's historic . . .), so it's been used as a setting as a governmental court plaza in some historical movies.

(Love the cobblestoned streets in this area! They're just visible in the center of the photo where the sandy park area ends. More pictures with the cobblestones below.)

Mom pointed out the irony in how much people pay for fancy granite counter tops . . . and the Finns walk and drive on the stuff. To be fair, the entire country basically sits on a giant piece of granite.

The harbor. A Silja Line ferry ship is visible on the right. We took these kinds of ferries across to Sweden for youth temple trips, only we boarded in Turku, not Helsinki.

The criss-crossing tram lines through the cobbled streets.

The Havis Amanda statue right by the tori (market) and the harbor. The woman the artist was with, a model, came under public attack. The statue is her in the middle, with the seals on the outside spewing water that doesn't touch her. They represent the gossipers and naysayers and how their words couldn't touch her. A close-up shot of the center is below.

Seeing the Finnish flag flying in the background brings me joy.

Another statue with the Russian-Finnish connection. Note the two-headed eagle at the top. Also the bright colored buildings in the back. Everywhere you go, whether it's downtown Helsinki or in the countryside, you see bright buildings like that.

Again, it's probably because of the long, dark winters. Gotta liven things up. That, or the fact that everything the Finns do is pretty. They're very aware of how things look. Nothing's just about function.

In the back is the Russian Orthodox church, known as the Uspenski Cathedral. We went inside later, so it'll have its own post.

The kauppatori (market) is in the foreground. Lots of fresh food and goods to buy. This is where we purchased gifts for our girls.

Fresh fish for sale at the tori.

Boats pull up to shore to sell fish, potatoes, and other foods.

Near the open-air market is the indoor one, the kauppahalli. (Think Pike's Place in Seattle.)

In addition to all the other yummy things available in the kauppahalli, of course Mom and I were drawn to the Kultasulka booth. Translated (do I even have to say it?): Golden Chocolate.

Above is the "Great Church" or Suurkirkko, which is in the same centeral area with these other sights but has its own post.

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